Central city investment would increase rates by 1.2%

Hundreds of people discuss a multimillion-dollar investment from Invercargill city council at a...
Hundreds of people discuss a multimillion-dollar investment from Invercargill city council at a public meeting last night hosted by (from left) council chief executive Clare Hadley, meeting chairman Rex Chapman and Holco general manager Andrew Cameron. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO
Invercargill ratepayers will end up having an increase of 1.2% in their rates if council commits to investing up to $30million in the inner-city block development.

In a public meeting yesterday at Civic Theatre, residents showed support for a CBD renewal but were divided about the current proposal.

Chief executive Clare Hadley presented the plans to build a $180million retail precinct in the block bounded by Tay, Dee, Esk and Kelvin Sts.

"This is one the biggest decisions we need to take in the next decade''

The council has been asked by HWCP Ltd - a joint venture between the Richardson Group and the council - to invest $20million in the project. A further $10million contingency was being considered to cover any overrun and enhancements the council might seek as a result of advice and submissions through the process.

A further $20million investment was revealed at the meeting, which the council said would be "an investment as asset owner.''

She explained that a $6million budget had been included in the council's long-term plan, but an additional $14million would be required.

This further investment would be to integrate the inner-city development into the rest of the CBD.

Mrs Hadley said the council was trying to be honest with ratepayers.

"We could ask for only $20million and after ... oops. We found a overrun. We're trying to be upfront and honest.''

Among the concerns raised by the residents were the future of the existing retail shops - a "empty block space'', the management of the future business and any further increases in rates.

Another issue discussed was the commercial potential of the business.

A man said if the investment in the inner-city project was good, then the "private sector would have invested in it''.

Mrs Hadley said the council's motive for investing was for the social and economic wellbeing of the community, rather than direct financial return.

Another resident said if the community invested in the development, this would mean other council projects would be delayed.

Mrs Hadley said compromising other projects was not in the council's perspective.

Consultation for the investment in the city block will be open until June 28.



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